Fundamentals of Hashkafa

What are the fundamentals of hashkafa? It is the study of the most important questions that have to do with your life and your existence. How can we understand something about G-d Himself? Can we understand why He created existence and how He guides it? Can we understand how the Jews are different than the nations of the world? Can we understand how the history of the world fits together? Can we understand where the world is leading? Can we understand the Messianic era and the World to Come? All of our learning is very text-based, but in order to understand the big picture we must take all those pieces, raise our heads from the books, and think how everything fits together. What type of thinking is this and how do we learn it and foster it? How can we begin to see things that aren't so obvious or so clear? Practice this unique way of thinking through exploring the medrash about the 4 exiles the Jews went through. What is exile? The mechanism of exile is the Jews sin, the connection to the Shechina is taken away and put in another place, the Jews go into that place and are given a test - if they pass, they are able to pull the Shechina back. That is the redemption. The timing of the destruction of the Second Temple and the ris of Christianity is no coincidence; they are directly connected. What went wrong in the time of Rabbi Akiva that caused him and his students to all die, instead of being Mashiach? Depending on whether the Jews merit it or not, there could be either a positive or a negative redemption. What is the role of Esau in all of this?